Friday brief: Air pollution protest reaches the council chamber
Plus our regular end of the week news round up
Calls for West Northamptonshire Council to tackle the polluted air in the county’s largest town reached the council chamber yesterday with the authority deciding to agree a series of new measures.
Protestors gathered outside the Guildhall in Northampton for a silent protest before the 5pm full council meeting at which the Labour opposition had tabled a motion calling on the Conservative administration to act quicker on the issue.
Areas of the town have been recognised as being above the legal limit for air pollutants since the mid 2000s, but as yet there has not been a decisive action plan, with campaigners saying the local authority has been neglecting its duties.
National surveys in recent years have marked the town out as a hotspot for damaging dirty air.
After amending the Labour motion, the council voted through the revised motion which will see a new clean air policy completed next year and a public health programme to reduce cars idling near to schools and pumping out toxins. School sites that will become part of the pilot will be picked after scientific data is gained.
Labour’s call for a Schools Streets initiative - where cars are banned from entering roads where schools are based - was scrubbed, to the concern of the Labour group as well as the Liberal Democrats.
Lib Dem deputy leader, Cllr Jonathan Harris also impressed the impact air pollution could have on the health of children, questioning whether the increasing rate of autism in the county could be linked to pollution.
“Research has shown that pollutants, such as the ones we are talking about, cause pulmonary inflammation, and neurotoxic effects on the brain, especially in children, with some evidence that it actually contributes to disconnect in the brain.
“Children’s breathing rates are also higher than those of adults, they take in more air per kilogram of body weight and because of their lower physical height they breathe air closer to the ground where a lot of these pollutants, especially exhaust emissions, sit and harbour.
“The National Institute of Environmental Health Services has commented that a woman’s exposure to harmful contaminants during pregnancy may trigger issues which could lead to autism in her child. Which begs the question. Is there a correlation between air quality issues and the increased demand for SEN? Who knows. Maybe we should take this issue seriously.”
Joining the protest outside was Clarice Whiteside, 78 who lives on Wellingborough Road who has suffered from asthma for many years.
She said she had noticed the air quality deteriorating over the years and found it especially difficult in the summer months.
The protest was organised by the Umbrella Fair Organisation.
News in brief
Homeless charity, the Hope Centre in Northampton has said that it has had more people turn to its services than ever before.
61 people used the Hands Up service this week, with chief executive Alex Copeland saying the increase was a direct impact of the cost of living crisis.
“We are witnessing between 3-5 newcomers every day, and having 61 individuals need our services is extremely troubling. Homelessness is caused by various factors, including mounting debts, forced evictions, relationship breakups, and mental health issues. What we are experiencing on the frontlines is the stark reality of the cost-of-living-crisis, and I fear that the true extent of its impact is just beginning to surface.”
More than 700 workers have been laid off after Kettering based haulage firm Knights of Old was taken into administration after a cyber attack.
Administrators were called in earlier this month and last week staff were suddenly made redundant.
Northants Police say the East Midlands Special Operations Unit is in charge of the investigation.
An inquest has ruled that a 25 year old woman who died in a Wellingborough hostel died of an accidental overdose.
Chereen Scotland died on August 6 last year at the Euro hotel. At an inquest held in Northampton yesterday the coroner’s court heard that Chereen had been diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia and was a habitual drug user.
On the evening before her death Chereen had been taking class A drugs with a friend who was also staying at the hostel. He woke to find her in the morning and attempted to resuscitate her.
🍄 Learn how to forage at a walk taking place tomorrow and on Sunday at Canons Ashby from 3.45pm to 4.45pm. Cost is £15 and booking details here.
🍸 Towcester’s Wharf distillery in Brackley Road, is having an open day tomorrow with live music, food and drink. Prices from £8 and book here.